After entering the data for the public water wells and monitor wells and looking at their locations in conjunction to mine tailings and other features we found the following correlations:

In reviewing the available data in well sampling it appears the researchers are making progress in locating some sources of contamination.  It also reveals they are locating new sources of contamination that were unexpected.  For instance, the newest Quapaw well, #5, was planned to replace an older contaminated one.  Unfortunately, this new and deeper well has higher levels of contaminants than the old one, an indication that the contaminants are reaching the Roubidoux near this well.  The Zinc, Iron and Sulfates are all elevated in Quapaw #5.  This particular well is very close to Beaver Creek which feeds into Spring River. 

Quapaw #4 well is very close to #5 and the water quality is of much higher quaility than #5.  Another well that is very close to Beaver Creek, Rural Water District #4 well, also has high quality water.  

Picher #6 and Fernandez sample levels indicate both wells are also impacted by mine water.  Both of these wells are close to mine tailings piles.  The sulfate levels in Picher and Cardin well samples are a possible cue that mine water is invading the Roubidoux near these communities. 

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The Oklahoma Governor's Task Force is recommending the formation of a world-class wetlands area and wildlife refuge within the area of the Tar Creek Superfund Site.  Their hope is that it will serve as an ecological solution to the major health, safety, environmental and aesthetic concerns that presently remain a huge dilemma.

There is a huge financial concern as well.  The estimated cost for attempting to restore

or at least improve the site will be disastrous:

Governor's Task Force Estimate of Costs

Source:  Governor's Task Force Website

Although it may appear to some that the various agencies are not making any progress we believe they have accomplished much.  However, as they learn more about each problem more concerns are identified. 

An example of this was provided in a March 1983 report prepared by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.  In the report it was noted that most tailings piles in the Picher Mining Field were situated within the Tar Creek drainage basin.  At that time, the adverse effects of the runoff from tailings piles on Tar Creek and its tributaries were hidden by the highly contaminated acid mine water discharge from the mines.  The report emphasized that upon eventual slowing or stopping of the mine discharges it may be discovered that the runoff from mineralized tailings piles to surface waters could have a major impact on aquatic life.  Another area that has not been addressed--many of the area's homes built in the 1980s have lead-based chat as fill.

Progress requires much time, adequate man-power and huge sums of money.  After reading the length of time that some of the researchers have been working on the superfund site dilemma we believe it also requires vast amounts of patience and more importantly, heart.

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Our project members hope our results make the severity of this quandary much clearer to our ES 351 classmates and in some small way help the residents of the Tar Creek Superfund site area.  At the 2005 Seventh Annual Tar Creek National Conference a quote was shared, "We cannot expect nature's forgiveness forever." After learning about the impact of the Tar Creek contamination we wholeheartedly agree. 

LAYLA (Blue "Canary" Dane), Age: 9.5


Photo source: Owner's private collection











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